Shakespeare or Space Wars opens in less than a week! As the Players put the finishing touches on props, costumes and scenery… and even our script… we want to share an inspiration that has had a big influence on those essential elements of the play: Little Monster’s Mother Goose by Mercer Mayer. It’s a children’s book that features monster-creatures putting on a play — not unlike the Players!
Little Monster’s Mother Goose was published in 1979, meaning it was just in time for Madame D’s childhood bedtime reading list. And it must have had an impact… Little Monster must be convinced to put on a play, and how the play happens — including what happens in the audience — is more interesting than the nursery rhymes themselves.
In fact, it’s almost impossible to read this book in any sort of linear or methodical fashion — visual and word puns are scattered about, and the pleasure in reading it is seeking them out and finding something you hadn’t seen before.
What’s more, none of the characters can let an opportunity for a comment, question, or delicious opportunity to lap up spilled milk pass them by.
The audience is having a great time, too — even if they’re not behaving “properly.” 🙂
Rebecca and Joan — who when not embodying Mdme. Directrix and Thumper, respectively, are the SPPP’s producing organization, Idiot String — sat down after one of the final Aesop Amuck rehearsals with none other than Sam Bertken (a.k.a. Meekins) to talk about their inspirations for both Aesop Amuck and the Peripatetic Players’ debut adventure, O Best Beloved.* Sam writes for S.F. Theater Pub,** a great blog about theatre and the independent theatre scene in the Bay Area that is run by producer, playwright & director Stuart Bousel.
We talked about influences like Mercer Mayer & Maurice Sendak, the Muppets, and Medieval & Renaissance theatre, as well as why performing on FluxWagon and breaking the fourth wall are so important to us. Read the interview here!
*Please note there are a couple words bleeped out with asterisks in this article that, if unbleeped, would be inappropriate for young audiences!
**Please also note that the content of S.F. Theatre Pub in general is aimed at adult audiences, and some topics elsewhere on the site may not be appropriate for kiddos.
There’s a searchable collection at www.aesopfables.com, which also includes fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen and others. This is likely the most extensive collection, and you’ll find many fables that are nearly identical but with slight variations in the details.
Who was Aesop anyway? Wikipedia can tell you a little more about who he might have been. But no writings attributed directly to “Aesop” survive. We do know that many philosophers and poets, including Aristophanes and Sophocles, knew of Aesop’s stories; Sophocles composed some of them into verse poems. We also know Aesop didn’t write down any of the morals; the lesson of each story was thought to be clear without articulating it, but later authors have added them and today we recognize many familiar aphorisms in the morals of “Aesop’s Fables.”
And for more images, head to Wikimedia Commons for a wealth of public domain illustrations from historical editions of the fables.